BHS Alumna Amanda Byrd Receives Emerging Leaders Award for Government/Public Affairs for Work With DC-Based Economic Innovation Group

By Julie Perine on December 24, 2018 via

Ted Ullyot – first general counsel of Facebook – and Dan Gilbert – founder of Quicken Loans, Inc. – are just two big hitters included in the founders circle of the DC-based Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan public policy organization dedicated to addressing America’s most pressing economic challenges.
Another name affiliated with EIG is Bridgeport High School alumna Amanda Byrd. The 2000 graduate serves as the organization’s director of communications and public affairs and in 2017 received the Emerging Leaders Award for Government/Public Affairs.
“The ELA is an award given annually by the Washington Women in Public Relations, which is an organization that works to advance women communicators,” said Byrd. “Knowing how many brilliant communicators are working hard and grinding away in D.C., I was honored and grateful for the recognition of my work.”
A recent project of EIG is the development of the distressed communities index, a research tool that maps and ranks the economic well-being of nearly every zip code, county and congressional district in the country.
“Too often, we talk about the American economy as a monolithic thing, but more and more, national GDP statistics or unemployment numbers don’t paint an accurate picture of what’s happing in many places,” Byrd said. “We built this interactive tool to give us a better idea of what local economies look like. The result of this project has been that we have a better understanding of what is happening in our own backyards and that we have a better grasp of the scale of the national challenge.”
Byrd said her work with EIG is very rewarding and that her upbringing in the local area plays a role in her appreciation for what the organization does.
“Our mission is personal to me. We're fortunate to call the wonderful, close-knit community of Bridgeport home, but you don't have to look far beyond to see the bigger challenges that many people face around us,” she said. “For anyone growing up in Appalachia, regional poverty and inequality are very real challenges with very real implications on our lives -- from education to mental health to life expectancy.  I get to spend my days working alongside the smartest team in Washington, D.C. to try to change that.”
For instance, the research completed for the distressed communities index led to the development of legislation that would become opportunity zones.
“The idea behind this solution is that the United States is the wealthiest country in America. We have an abundance – not a shortage – of capital, but hat wealth is concentrated in a small number of places while large swaths of the country have stagnated or declined in recent decades,” Byrd said. “We wanted to design an incentive for those who are sitting on significant amounts of capital to invest in the communities that have been shut out of growth in the modern economy. Good ideas, talent and hard-working people are found everywhere and  opportunity should be too.”
After graduation from BHS, Byrd attended West Virginia University, graduating with degrees in political science and communications before completing her master’s in integrated marketing communications. She thereafter moved to DC to work for then-Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. She has spent much of her career managing communications for companies and non-profits across technology, biotech and economic development, including her work with EIG, which began in 2015, shortly after its launch.
“Since then, I’ve led our team in building a marketing and communications practice that has established our reputation as a leading voice on issues like geographic inequality and economic dynamism in America,” she said.

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